Julian (The Film Seeker)’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sound of Metal is unequivocally one of the best films of 2020. And just like the absolute best movie (so far) of the year, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, this film captures one of my absolute core fears in such a vivid manner. Charlie Kaufman tapped into my greatest terror of living an unfulfilling life marred by wasted potential and mediocrity, and Darius Marder came right behind him to prod me with the sensation of losing one of my senses. For someone whose whole life revolves around movies, losing my sense of vision OR hearing is an absolute death sentence to me.
...Or is it? Marder makes the case that hearing loss is just another challenge to overcome. One that may derail your plans, but doesn't prevent you from thriving. The moments of peace and tranquility that make up the silver lining of this situation are emphasized beautifully by Marder's vision of gorgeous rural landscapes and are punctuated by unparalleled sound design. And in other instances, that very sound design becomes the scariest sensory experience imaginable. In every instance, it's completely immersive.
Riz Ahmed's lauded performance verges between the defeatism and fragile optimism that someone in this situation would undoubtedly go through. It's a constant cycle of highs and lows that don't always manifest in enraged outbursts (although there are plenty of those), and are often expressed by the slightest adjustment in the glimmer of one's eye. Ahmed walks this tightrope with care, and I have no doubt that Amazon will totally butcher is Oscar campaign.
While Sound of Metal's overall sense of melancholy might not serve everyone, the film strikes the right balance between cynicism and hope to stun us, the masochists of the filmgoing world. If I ever go to another concert, I'm keeping earplugs on deck at all times.